Chrome Removes "The Great Suspender" Extension Due to Malware

  • By Dawna M. Roberts
  • Feb 18, 2021

Last Thursday, Google removed "The Great Suspender" from the Chrome Web Store and disabled the malware-infected extension from users’ computers. 

The information gathered so far by The Hacker News claims that the extension contained dangerous malware capable of spying on users’ online activities and tracking them for the purposes of advertising fraud.

According to The Hacker News, "The old maintainer appears to have sold the extension to parties unknown, who have malicious intent to exploit the users of this extension in advertising fraud, tracking, and more," Calum McConnell said in a GitHub post."

What is The Great Suspender?

The Great Suspender is a very popular Chrome extension with more than two million installs. What it does is "suspend" tabs that are not in use and replace them with a gray screen until the user returns to the tab.

Rumors of the malware infection began to surface last November when Microsoft blocked it on Edge. 

Originally a clean app, The Great Suspender was sold by the original developer back in June 2020. New releases (7.1.8 and 7.1.9) showed up in the extension store shortly after that. There is no information about who purchased it and is providing updates.

The Hacker News said, "Users of the extension can recover the tabs using a workaround here, or as an alternative, can also use the latest version available on GitHub ( v7.1.6 ) by enabling Chrome Developer mode."

Users who installed the app and then turned on developer mode may have put themselves in even more danger. Threat researchers have discovered that the extension was capable of bypassing firewalls, data exfiltration, and copying data to hacker-controlled servers. 

The Hacker News expanded on this by saying, "Zdrnja said the adversary created a malicious security add-on that masqueraded as Forcepoint Endpoint Chrome Extension for Windows, which was then installed directly on the browser after enabling Developer mode.

"While there are some limitations on the size of data and amount of requests, this is actually perfect for C&C commands (which are generally small), or for stealing small, but sensitive data – such as authentication tokens," Zdrnja said."

How Did Google Respond?

The Great Suspender Malware

According to The Register, Google did not take notice when rumors spread in November about the extension containing malware. 

There is no information about the current owner or where they are located. They commented that "The Register tried to contact the current owner and former owner by email, and we've yet to receive a response. The extension claims it can "make your computer run smoothly by suspending the tabs you aren't using.

Since the ownership transfer, there have been dozens of code changes committed to the add-on's GitHub repository. At least two new versions (7.1.8 and 7.1.9) have been released through the Chrome Web Store and distributed to users automatically, a behavior some consider to be a bug ."

Google pulled the extension from its library last Thursday and deactivated it on all users' machines. They also posted a message claiming that this extension contains malware. 

How Can Users Protect Themselves?

With any type of software, extension, or app, there is the possibility of malware infections. Users must be careful when installing even from trusted sources.

Other tips to stay safe include:

  • Keep all your devices updated with the latest security patches and operating system upgrades.

  • Install good, strong, antivirus/anti-malware software and run deep scans often.

  • Never download files or software from untrusted sources.

  • Monitor any news of updates, patches, or security issues on browser extensions, apps, and other software.

As evidenced by this issue, it's impossible to stay 100% safe, but you must do all you can to keep your digital life secure

About the Author
IDStrong Logo

Related Articles

Instagram Vulnerability Allowed Hackers Access to Control Your Phone

Security experts Check Point Research discovered a critical vulnerability while examining Instagra ... Read More

Alien Malware Infects More than 226 Mobile Apps and Steals Bank Data

As reported on September 24, 2020, by ZDNet and ThreatPost, a new strain of malware named “A ... Read More

Universal Health Systems Hit by Ransomware Attack

Universal Health Systems (UHS), a Fortune 500 company owning more than 400 hospitals across the co ... Read More

Exchange Server Bug Exposes a Big Risk to Hackers

Months after Microsoft released a patch to fix a serious flaw in MS Exchange Server, more than 61% ... Read More

Clients’ Bank Data Exposed in Blackbaud Ransomware Attack

Blackbaud software was victim to a ransomware attack last May, and new information suggests that c ... Read More

Latest Articles

Pennsylvania Maternal & Family Health Services Announces Ransomware Attack

Pennsylvania Maternal & Family Health Services Announces Ransomware Attack

Anyone paying even little attention to cybersecurity knows that medical practices and services are some of the most targeted institutions in the world.

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap January 27

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap January 27

This week, our lineup is pretty hard-hitting. Some of the biggest names in, well, everything, have been hacked, with a combined victim total of well into the millions.

MailChimp Announces Data Breach Affecting Tiny Number of Customers – With Big Ripples

MailChimp Announces Data Breach Affecting Tiny Number of Customers – With Big Ripples

MailChimp has been hacked repeatedly over the years; there is very little surprise in the breach, though one thing should be considered.

Featured Articles

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Buying your own home is the American Dream, but it might seem out of reach to those with bad credit. However, the good news is, if your credit is less than perfect, you do still have options and in most cases, can still buy a home.

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

Any good IT article on computers and network security will address the importance of strong, secure passwords. However, the challenge of good passwords is that most people have a hard time remembering them, so they use simple or obvious ones that pose a security risk.

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Senior scams are becoming a major epidemic for two reasons. First, seniors often have a lot of money in the bank from a life of working hard and saving.

Free Identity Threat Scan
Instantly Check if Your Personal Information is Exposed
All fields below are required
Please enter first name
Please enter last name
Please enter a city
Please select a state
Please enter an email address
Close